Alums of a couple of Boston’s best French restaurants — Frenchie and Petit Robert Bistro— are setting out to open a French restaurant of their own. Wife-and-husband duo Anaïs and Antoine Lambert plan to open Café Sauvage, a hip and updated take on a Parisian-style bistro, in the space formerly occupied by Hsin Hsin Cafe at 25 Massachusetts Ave. in Boston’s Back Bay.
Before deciding to open their own restaurant, the Lamberts worked together at Petit Robert (Antoine as a partner in the business and Anaïs as a digital marketing manager). Before that, Antoine worked in a number of different roles at both Frenchie and sibling spot Colette Wine Bistro in Cambridge. But working in Boston’s French restaurant scene is hardly the only connection the Lamberts have to France — they were both born and raised there.
“We are [both] originally from France, and we lived in the 12th arrondissement of Paris before coming to the states five years ago,” says Anaïs. In that time, they’ve worn many hats at several different restaurants and also had a daughter, whom Anaïs describes as their mascot. And now they’re on the verge of opening their own business.
Anaïs tells Eater that the menu at Café Sauvage will be inspired by French cuisine but won’t stick strictly to the classics. “We think that there is a side of French, and especially Parisian, cuisine that people need to discover,” she says. “Paris is a multicultural place, and as a mixed couple — and now as a mixed family — it is important to reflect that on our plates. We want our guests to understand that there is more to Parisian food than just beef bourguignon and escargots.” The menu will also feature influences from Vietnam, Portugal, Ethiopia, and beyond. That said, diners can still expect some degree of old-school Parisian bistro charm, too.
“We are a French cafe, [so] of course you will find some coffee, tea, juices, and pastries,” says Anaïs. “We want to offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a brunch menu. The idea behind Café Sauvage is to [provide] a real French cafe experience. You can come in at 7:30 a.m. just for a cup of coffee and a chocolate croissant but also have a nice lunch with our jambon-beurre sandwich or a more intimate dinner.”
Anaïs says she and Antoine chose the name Café Sauvage, which translates to “wild cafe,” because they’re “untraditional” and “different from the typical French place that we have in Boston. Our cafe will be wild, and it will be translated into our decor.” If Café Sauvage’s Instagram feed is any sort of hint, diners can expect plenty of plants and wallpaper evocative of the tropics.
The Lamberts say that they couldn’t have gotten to this point “without the support of friends and family, and especially that of Antoine’s former boss, Sandrine Rossi.” (Rossi is behind Frenchie and Colette.) They plan to open their doors sometime in September 2021.